5 Benefits of Automating Your Accounts Payable Process
The global pandemic has impacted every aspect of our world, including how we work.
While some business processes are easy to adapt to a virtual office setting, others may not be as flexible without the right tools and technology in place. In particular, adapting accounts payable processes to the new normal has been a challenge for many organizations.
Invoice processing can be problematic, especially if you’re still performing it manually. Invoices can get misplaced, approval requests overlooked, and vendors paid twice – or not at all. Streamlined invoice processing can strengthen a business’ finances and operations, especially in a remote work environment.
AP Challenges in the Remote Work Environment
From routing invoices and capturing data to resolving discrepancies and managing operations, AP processes have many moving parts, mainly manual steps.
Some of the challenges AP departments may face while working remotely include:
- Scanning invoices, then placing them in the wrong digital folder, or accidentally deleting them.
- Data entry errors resulting in missed or lost paperwork, inaccurate information, and additional time staff must spend correcting mistakes.
- Difficulty collecting and processing hard copy invoices arriving in the mail daily.
- The storage and security of confidential paper invoices on an employee’s at-home desk (that could very well be their dining room table).
- Manually uploading invoices into systems, causing extremely long processing times and possible late payments.
According to Esker, the visibility of cash and working capital for companies is now more critical than ever. “Delays in access to that information have helped illuminate the flaws in their current AP processes as well as those in the rest of the cash conversion cycle.”
Accounts Payable Automation Benefits
The more efficient your accounts payable process is, the better you can do business. Workflow automation solutions enable accounts payable departments to streamline business operations, even when staff work on-the-go or remotely.
Here are five ways that automation solutions help keep AP processes moving when employees aren’t in the office.
1) Touchless processing
AP automation eliminates the paper process and manual data entry – allowing your AP staff to focus on more productive tasks.
Smart data extraction technology built into accounts payable workflow automation solutions extracts and validates data from paper and digital invoices. All invoices are captured and visible in the system within hours of receipt.
This visibility gives you complete control over your cash flow. Cash management becomes more efficient with reduced data entry errors and accelerated cycle times. Additionally, automated cash management allows you to take advantage of early-pay discounts offered by your suppliers and the opportunity to negotiate new discounts.
2) Real-time visibility
Optimized accounts payable solutions provide real-time insights into the metrics that financial leaders need to grow their organizations.
Real-time dashboards display the status of invoices and other critical information within hours of receipt. Current and historical invoice information can be accessed quickly and remotely. And, users can run ad hoc reports efficiently and export critical data for key stakeholders.
Machine learning in automated workflow solutions also enables the delivery of more accurate data over time. Extracted data from invoices are matched against information residing in an ERP or accounting system. Then, the data is routed digitally based on your pre-set workflows.
3) Reduced processing times and costs
A recent survey found that companies with little to no automation have invoice processing costs of $10 or more per invoice. Lengthy cycles can cost your organization money, whether it’s late-payment penalties or missed early-pay discounts.
Cloud-based accounts payable solutions ensure invoices are paid on time by electronically routing them for approval, based on your organization’s requirements. Invoices can be approved at any time, from anywhere, using any electronic device.
Automatic reminders can be set to remind authorizers of approval deadlines, improving supplier relationships, and eliminating manual follow-ups. Additionally, administrators can adjust workflows, permissions, and delegation rules as their organization’s needs change.
4) Advanced security
Finance teams that have grown accustomed to paper payment processes expose their companies to ever-increasing risks of data breach and errors that can be difficult to detect immediately. Over time, these risks can take a significant toll on a company’s financial health.
When planning to offer work-from-home arrangements, your company should have the required data privacy safeguards to monitor and support your remote workforce. Cloud-based automation systems give your team control over remote activities with features such as user authentication, role-based permissions, logging of activities, encryption, and more.
5) Easy deployment and integration
Unlike on-premise AP systems, cloud-based automation software can be deployed without significant upfront capital costs that require ongoing IT support. Modern user interface allows remote users to get up-and-running with the software quickly, no matter where they’re located.
Most cloud-based accounts payable solutions also integrate seamlessly with various ERP and financial systems.
Overall, organizations can deploy a cloud-based workflow automation system in a fraction of the time that it takes to implement an on-premise solution.
Capture, process and manage invoices with ease
When processes are automated, and information is managed efficiently, it not only reduces operational waste, but it allows companies to do more with less.
At Vital Records Control, we provide mail scanning service and workflow automation solutions with business software integration that eliminates paper-heavy processes and brings efficiency to your workflow.
Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help automate your business processes so your organization can operate at full capacity now and save time and money in the future.